Vedanta Ltd, a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources Ltd, is one of the world’s leading Oil & Gas and Metals company with significant operations in Oil & Gas, zinc, lead, silver, copper, iron ore, steel, and aluminum, and power across India, South Africa and Namibia.
In February 2022, Vedanta and Hon Hai Technology Group (Foxconn) signed an MoU for manufacturing semiconductors in India.
Here, Vineet Jaiswal, Deputy CEO, Centre of Excellence, Vedanta Ltd, tells us more about the company’s foray into Industry 4.0 and beyond. Excerpts from an interview:
DQ: How are you laying the foundation – connectivity and a unified IT/OT digital platform—for Industry 4.0 use cases?
Vineet Jaiswal: Vedanta has multiple metal and mining business footprint and to make sure that despite having diverse business interest, we have a unified business transformation blueprint, we have created VI4.0 (Vedanta Industry 4.0) framework. This framework works as reference and guiding document for all the Digital transformation activity across the group businesses.
For seamless connectivity and to help create digital thread across the value chain, VI4.0 recommends wireless communication protocol like 5G, LoraWAN, Wi-Fi, Wirepas apart from optical fibres. At HZL, we have created world-class Wi-Fi network in underground mines covering 30 km with partners like Cisco, SDWAN for IT/OT integration of multiple units, OSI PI as enterprise historian platform for OT data and analytics, Azure machine learning platform for data analytics, etc.
The digital thread across the mining value chain has helped in visibility of underground vehicles and tracking, for seamless execution of operation activities, optimal utilization of assets, safety of employees, real time monitoring of interactions between man and machine to avoid any accidents, thus making the mine safer.
Data is another key enabler for this transformation, and we have also defined SOP as how should we collect the data, transfer the data, and consume the data (i.e., at edge, at fog or at cloud). Different IIoT sensor technologies like edge-based satellite oil fields, multiple start-up products/solutions and other business proprietary platform with API interfaces are leveraged to get visibility to treasure of data and based on use cases implemented to bring the value to businesses.
Vedanta-wide unified Azure data lake platform DISHA has empowered key stakeholders like CEOs to get key insights on business performance and strategic inputs as well as the Operational Leaders by powering them with alerts on predictive maintenance of assets and equipment.
All these efforts are not only helping sweat our assets judicially, but also helping utilization of natural resources like ore, water etc optimally enabling our efforts towards sustainability.
DQ: How are you reducing equipment downtime and minimizing human errors to decrease production expenses and improve quality and safety?
Vineet Jaiswal: We have taken multiple steps to help better utilize our assets to improve the bottom line by aligning to our Vedanta wide AO (asset optimization) and V4I.0 framework. AO framework is focused on ‘foundational elements’ like strategy, organization, standards to ‘maintenance focus’ on shutdown, condition monitoring, material management etc., to ‘reliability enhancement focus’ areas like defect elimination, process optimization, operate for reliability to finally ‘improvement processes’ like digitalization, innovation, Lean 6 Sigma, etc.
V4I.0 lists down technology catalogue which can be used to better understand health of equipment and in many cases enable the AO framework. Analysis of telemetry data collected from mining equipment helps in condition based monitoring and predictive maintenance.
Additionally, here are some of the key enablers:
Detailed shutdown planning
a) Executing granular planning with scientific methodologies. We have moved our approvals online with improved validation systems for faster operations and convenience.
b) Also enabled higher visibility and tracking of manpower, procurement, and scheduling to increase our responsiveness to shutdowns and outages.
Seamless shutdown execution
a) Real-time data capture: Immediate data capture on field and sharing through mobile app
b) Richer information collection: Easy collection of inspection evidence collected through pictures, notes and document pdfs
c) Dynamic decision making: Live S-Curve and critical path identification
d) Collecting data from sensors installed on assets on cloud and analysing it real-time through dashboards
Effective post shutdown management
a) Effective record management: Information collected digitally and stored effectively for future use
b) Easy insight extraction: Trend analysis on data stored in standardized format
c) Improved accountability: Concept of Reviewer & Signatory for transparent operations
DQ: How are you creating shortening changeovers and creating simpler process instructions to reduce training time?
Vineet Jaiswal: We have started exploring the concepts of Extended Reality (XR) and have onboarded few AR/VR use cases for safety training of employees.
We are also digitizing the systems and making data capture, approvals, and delegation of tasks paperless through mobilization. Mobilization saves time which is spent on manual collection of data and maintaining systems of record. Our goal is to make entire process touchless.
DQ: What are you doing to meeting complex customer requirements and improving delivery timing?
Vineet Jaiswal: We are going 100% e-commerce for all our sales and marketing channels across BUs. To compliment / enable faster time to serve, we are also implementing 100% online buying – all buying to be done through EOI and auctions for price discovery. We have invested significantly in supply chain over the years, and we are further building on the same concept to bring better visibility on delivery for our customers.
Governance of the same is enabled through our data platform, DISHA which provides insides on performance and gives timely alerts on deviation to commitments. These insights are used to track progress, identify issues and bottlenecks proactively. This results in better planning, mitigation and closing the decision loop faster.
We are also engaging startups through Spark program and implementing group wide digital transformation program through project “Pratham”.
DQ: Give at least two examples of any recent Industry 4.0 deployments.
Vineet Jaiswal: We have several. A few of them are:
Advanced process control enabling smart manufacturing
Transition to automated adaptive control from manual control to unlock significant value through minimizing variability & driving efficiencies. It’s like our best operator working 24×7.
Key outcomes include reduced variability, improved efficiency, improved throughput and quality, operation at global optima setpoints. Further coupled with AI/ML techniques like self-learning – retune model to adapt with process changes over time and Intelligent soft sensors for real time measurement using regression models to replace less frequent lab values. Realized 1-5% gain in throughput, efficiency, and cost reduction through implementations in zinc, oil & gas, and aluminum processing units.
Smart Pot relining through sensorization
Smart Pot project has helped to reduce production loss duration from 9.5 days to 8.1 days. Due to automated processes with online portals and logbooks, it has eliminated possibility of data manipulation and saved 83% of man hours previously consumed. With centralized access and automated analysis, it provides real-time visibility of reports. This also results in better planning, outcomes, continuous tracking and supports audit compliance efforts.
Coal blend optimization
AI/ML-based digital coal blend optimizer and predictive model, integrated with SAP and Historian. Simulation tool build to aid commercial in sourcing, OCR to auto populate data from documents received from the vendor. To be integrated with Burden Mix for predicting the burden mix.
Safety training through extended reality
Multiple Vedanta businesses starting from ESL business launched AR/VR powered Safety training transformational initiative – an interactive learning zone for safety and beyond which not only reiterates businesses commitment to safety, but also strengthens our journey to achieve digital excellence.
Leveraging augmented and virtual reality technologies, we are enabling to transform information and knowledge into intuitive, engaging, and outcome-based learning solutions. With this game-changer approach, we want to make Vedanta, a digital-enabled safer organization.
Drone-based overhead lines monitoring
Implementation of drone-based overhead electrical line (OHL) monitoring solution at RJ Oil, Barmer, to enable proactive maintenance and reduction of unplanned downtime from OHL failure. It also geographic information system (GIS) mapping for all physical poles and assets. This solution also has image analytics to compare the past data with the current images to detect potential failures using machine learning.
Implementation of machine learning-based predictive analytics solution-based maintenance for asset reliability improvement at Cairn. This solution is amalgamation of first principle and data driven based technologies to give a 360-degree view of asset performance and predict future events of potential failure.
This uses supervised and unsupervised machine learning techniques and APR (advanced pattern recognition) technologies from historical data to predict future events on similar patterns. This is implemented in various surface assets at RJ Oil and getting extended to other critical assets.
Condition monitoring leading through real-time vibration monitoring system
Collecting vibration data from the equipment 24×7 via IOT devices and populating diagnostic results on real-time basis on cloud to take immediate actions:
a) Diagnostics: Getting real time diagnostics and actionable insights from the system which will help us avoid unwanted/sudden failure in system
b) Digital reliability: Proactively diagnose and provide predictive maintenance solution to correct machine faults with patented diagnostic services, thus avoiding sudden plant stoppages. (5% improvement in rotary equipment availability)
c) Process digitization: Provides a powerful analytical solution to reflect the exact conditions of the equipment and correlates the vibration data to predict its RUL accurately.